More than 100 councils will today be threatened with legal action over their failure to provide rape crisis centres and domestic violence support services, with a strongly worded warning issued by the Equality and Human Rights Commission.Because that’s not going to put a squeeze on council budgets, now is it…?
Research reveals that one in four local authorities in Britain offer no specialised services for women who have faced violence or abuse, and shows that a quarter of those rape crisis centres that are still operating believe they will either have to close or radically cut services in 2009.Oh noes! No provision at all!?! That means no jobs for the ‘caring’ classes!
The findings, published jointly by the EHRC and the End Violence Against Women campaign, offer a stark illustration of the large areas of the country where there is now no provision at all.
Why has this crisis come about?
The research shows that those services that do exist are losing their battle to secure long-term funding both from the state and from charitable sources. Trevor Phillips, chair of the EHRC, said: "In many parts of the country, services for women who have experienced violence are chronically underfunded or simply do not exist. Women shouldn't be subjected to this postcode lottery.And services for men who have experienced violence? They can just suck it up, I guess.
"Urgent action is needed to provide funding and support to ensure that all women can get help whenever they need it - wherever they live."
Unless they want to try taking their case to the EHRC too? Perhaps if all the varied victim groups and grievance-mongers start suing each other, they’ll leave the rest of us alone…
He said he hoped the report would prompt councils to act, but added: "For those who continue to ignore the dire need to shore up services, we have a stark reminder: the commission is ready and willing to use its enforcement powers."So where’s the ‘gender equality’ in providing services for women, and not men?
The EHRC will send a letter to around 100 local authorities giving them a month to explain why they have no provision in place. If their response is unsatisfactory, it intends to take legal action under the Equality Act 2006, which requires local authorities to promote gender equality.
Naturally, Harman’s Harpies are cheering this on:
Vera Baird, the solicitor general, appeared to support the EHRC's initiative, and issued a statement saying: "There are still too many local authorities not providing support. Women shouldn't have to face a postcode lottery of service provision."They have finite budgets, Vera – what should they cut in order to afford this?
The study highlights the patchy state of provision, citing cases of victims who have been forced to make 120-mile trips to receive counselling. It shows that ethnic minority women, who often require very specific services (relating, for example, to issues such as forced marriage) are especially poorly served, with just 10% of local authorities offering dedicated support.If someone needs ‘counselling’, why shouldn’t she have to undertake a long journey? Given the state of our wonderful public services, it happens to women who have the temerity to expect to give birth too. Going on sheer numbers, I’d say we ought to fix that first…
And it seems as if they are aiming at the wrong target here anyway:
The piecemeal way in which these groups have had to gather funding in the past has always made their long-term existence precarious. But groups say they have found it increasingly difficult to persuade local authorities to fund their work, and blame a preference for funding large-scale service providers rather than small charities, and a failure of central government policymakers to prioritise sexual violence support services.Hmm, ‘small charities’ losing out while all the moolah goes to bigger ones, eh? That seems familiar…
Only 38 remain rape crisis centres remain in England and Wales, many of which may close soon. Workers in the sector claim there are more pet rescue centres than women's violence support groups.So..? That’s what the public choose to support via their donation (most animal charities aren’t government funded).
You might like to ask yourself why, rather than start squealing that the taxpayers should be forced to pay for something they’d rather not contribute to.
Yvonne Traynor, chief executive of London's only remaining rape crisis branch, in south London, said the nature of the violence made it hard to launch powerful, opinion-forming campaigns.That would be amusing, if I didn’t have to look at a poster depicting the ‘threat’ of male-on-female violence every time I use the ladies toilet at my place of work.
"Victims are not normally strong enough to tie themselves to the railings outside Downing Street, shouting: 'This has happened and I don't have any help.' Survivors of sexual abuse don't want people to know what happened to them: they won't be marching to Whitehall," she said, adding that the branch faced closure this year unless new funding emerged.
Queries about why this was allowed to go up when it paints a totally one-sided picture, and where’s the support for male victims, were brushed aside by HR as ‘irrelevant to the main issue of male violence blah blah’…